Checking Your Transmission Fluid
Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated May 28, 2010)
One of the first things that I learned about automotive care was the importance of what I like to call "preventive maintenance." This term is very general and describes a list of things that you should check periodically to ensure your car or truck is operating in the proper manner. If you happen to have a car or truck with automatic transmission (which includes most vehicles on the road these days), you should check your transmission fluid.
- Transmission fluid (Check owners manual for vehicle specific fluid)
- Owners manual/Repair manual
Turn your engine on and allow it to warm up by letting it run for about 15 minutes. Then turn it off.
- Locate. Pop the engine hood on your vehicle and locate the ATF dipstick. It should be located near the back of your engine, but look in either a repair manual or the owner's manual for the specific location. It should look similar to the engine oil dipstick, only smaller.
- Check. Remove the dipstick from its sheath and wipe it clean. The stick may be fairly long and the fluid can stain so be careful as you are removing the stick that you don't splash anything on yourself. After you have wiped the dipstick clean, reinsert it all the way into the sheath and then once again remove it. Look near the tip, and you should see two markings that indicate where the full line is at. One is for hot readings, and the other is for cold.
- Fill. If it is necessary, add some of the appropriate transmission fluid to your vehicle by using a funnel and pouring the fluid through the same location that the dipstick was located. When doing this, only add a little at a time so that you can check periodically to see what the current level is at. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as necessary.
- Clean. Clean up any mess and replace the dipstick.
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